Batman #17

by JohnP on February 12, 2013

Here it is boys and girls - the finale to the vastly hyped, uber crossover event Death of the Family. Does it deliver? does and it doesn't. Let me explain.

Consider the DotF arc in a vacuum. Forget all the hype. Forget all the crossover stuff. Imagine you are reading this three years from now for the first time. It's a great story. Snyder is a master of tension building and this issue is a prime example. Every panel increases the need to see what happens in the next one. The turn of every page can't comes with an anticipation of what you will see on the next. Every revelation comes only after it has been earned with a fever pitch of anxiety. Whether those revelations end up being worthy of those emotions are another question. Sure there is at least one climactic reveal that has all the air taken out of it almost immediately, but in a view devoid of the hype this doesn't matter. The story on its own was never about "who's going to die," as it turns out, but this is still a fascinating study of the dynamic of the Batman/Joker relationship. Whether you love it or hate it, you will be talking about it and thinking about it and reading it more than once.

Ok, now let's think of it in light of the buildup. We've all been hearing how the Joker is more dangerous than ever, how he goes further than ever, how this will change the status quo of the Batfamily forever, etc... None of this ends up being the case. Does the Joker do anything as bad as beating Jason to death with a crowbar? Not even close. Does Batman do anything out of character or surprising? No. Is the Batfamily irrevocably shattered? Nowhere near. It's hard not to be a bit upset with how Snyder himself characterized this arc. If only the press and DC had been saying these things, that's to be understood. Yet, I do kinda feel he personally oversold it a bit and that is what caused my initial impression to be one of disappointment. Ultimately, the plot not only ended up with the Joker having played a joke on Batman, but Snyder playing a joke on the readers. Perhaps this will go down in history as the great Joker arc where the Clown Prince of Evil actually managed to reach out through the panels and actually fuck with the readers heads. People talk about Deadpool breaking the fourth wall, but he ain't got nothin on this, if that's how it all goes down

It should be mentioned that Greg Capullo turns in yet another great issue, as does Glapion and Plasencia inner and colorist respectively. It's hard to top the greatness of a panel where Batman stops a charging horse dead in it's tracks with a single punch to the head, but the heart themed page in this issue is one of my favorite pages he has done to date.

In the end, it is really hard to say where I rank this. My opinions on it are still evolving. I'm still mulling the possible meanings and future implications of what I've read and I'm sure I will be reading it many times more in the future. That alone says quite a bit about the issue. Whether fans love it or hate it - and this is already proving to be a divisive issue - fans are sure to be talking about this one for some time. If only to be part of the discussion, this is a must read.

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lucstclair's picture
I agree with most of what you say, but I was still a little disappointed. Snyder should of brought The Joker to his full pontential. Having him plot this huge complicated plan, just to reveal "Sorry, I never really would of gone through with it" is kind of a cop out. With Bruce Wayne's money and today's surgical advances (by comic books stantards) I don't think it would of been a problem and would given the story a true sense of shock.